Gyms in 2021 survive the COVID catastrophe


Hunter McIlmoil

Stafford Hills exercise facility and club in Tualatin.

Welcome to 2021 wildcats! Fingers crossed this year brings luck and health to us all. A new year means goals and resolutions like get better grades, eat clean, and lose weight. These typical intentions come around every January as we start off the next calendar year with hope for the future and plans to better ourselves.

“New years push” is a term describing the busiest time of the year for gyms worldwide. Planet Fitness, Orangetheory, 24 Hour Fitness, YMCA and many more open their doors to an enormous number of aspiring citizens ready for physical improvement.

With 2021 marking the first year we begin a new decade with a worldwide pandemic in tow, business has been affected tremendously. The government shut down gyms and work out facilities previously in 2020 as they were deemed unnecessary businesses. Now with new regulations and protocols for safety of the masses gyms have lost funds as business has been decimated. Gyms were breeding grounds for germs even before the virus, so how can they stay open safely now?

According to Centers for Disease Control, the main way the virus is spreading is through person-to-person respiratory droplets that enter the air through coughing, sneezing, or talking. You may also contract COVID-19 after touching an infected person or object and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Gyms are often crowded, enclosed spaces where everyone is breathing the same air and touching the same sweaty equipment. So we are faced with the question: how are they able to maintain a safe environment for their customers?

The answer is simple: masks, distance, and disinfectant. Members are required to wear masks at all times as well as keep social distance whether it be on treadmills or by the free weights. They must also carry around a cloth and bottle of disinfectant used to wipe down any machinery or equipment that was used. While following these simple protocols, business stays open as usual.

Several gyms in Oregon planned to defy Governor Kate Brown’s “two week freeze” as they could not survive another temporary closure. These defiant businesses paid the price. Fines up to $90,000 from OSHA have been cited in response to their resistance. The entire fitness industry has been severely impacted and continues to suffer under these conditions, but what can they do to get around this?

Gyms across the US have started offering outdoor and virtual workout classes. Zuma, yoga, barre, and cardio classes are easily accessible from the comfort of your living room. Other online programs have also been put in place to help boost business. Trainers can also focus one-on-one with clients as they are able to keep the distance with limited people in a room at one time. Some groups working previously in exercise facilities have paired up with nutrition groups and held outdoor classes where it is safe to do so.

Though it is difficult, companies have found a way to stay in business and help their members achieve their goals.